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Subject: Theme reasons for sea-zone rules rss

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Christof
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Hirschberg
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I would be interested in the in-theme-reasons for the special rules of the different sea-zones because I love themed gameplay and such informations could give even more flair to an already very themed game. Very few are already explained in the rule book, like Port Royal being an infamous pirate nest, so pirates with bounties can still get there and you can get new crew for free. But there are so many other special rules which seem to have a themed background.

For example why do you have to test your seamanship to enter the port of Bridgetown with bigger ships? Where there reefs near the port of Bridgetown or shallows?
Why is it harder for navy ships to find other ships around the Bahamas (Nassau)? Was it significantly easier for ships to hide in these waters? If so why?
And even more so for Trinidad, where navy ships have no chance at all at finding an enemy ship.
Why is life for a pirate in Petite Goave so much harder? Was this an especially pirate-unfriendly port? If so why and how?
Was St. John something like a center of naval engineering?
Why do merchants around San Juan tend to have loaded more Gold? Did Puerto Rico have so much more natural gold resources (and thus mines) than other places in the Caribbean?
Why do the French ignore pirates in the waters around Tortuga if they have no French bounty and why are French captains safe from NSC-pirates there?
Why do the Cubans pay more for goods they really want? Is that historically explainable or is that more a little comment regarding modern times (US trade embargo on Cuba)?

Etc.

Also some are partly understandable for me, for example Old Providence which supports pirates that went for the Spanish. This I guess derives from the old hatred of the British vs. the Spanish (Spanish Armada etc.). But why was Old Providence chosen over the other British ports for that special rule? And why are the British the only ones that support pirates against another nation? Surely they all did in a way?
I would be really happy for any information regarding this from you history buffs out there.
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Michael Scribner
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Time for my obligatory plug for an amazing book on the Golden Age of Pirates. Read 'The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down', by Colin Woodard. Great book on this stuff if you're interested in pirates.

I'm not sure about some of these, but there are a few I can comment on.

Nassau was the favored hideout and base of operations for many of the famous pirate captains of the age, and yes, the terrain of the surrounding Bahama islands was a factor in that. First and foremost, ALL shipping traffic heading back to Europe flowed between these islands and the Atlantic coast of North America, moving with the tradewinds to the north Atlantic for the crossing back to Europe (more on this in a bit). The pirate crews knew the islands (typically far better than the navy crews imported from Europe), and there were just so many little nooks and crannies where they could hide with their faster, smaller vessels. There are many tales of British navy ships and Spanish Coast Guard vessels chasing pirate ships, only to lose them in these islands. Charles Vane played cat and mouse like this with one of the Royal Navy admirals sent to drive the pirates out of Nassau, skulking around for months to terrorize merchant vessels right under his nose. This included one vessel that the admiral had captured FROM Vane when the admiral arrived, after said admiral outfitted the sloop for a personal for-profit trading expedition to a nearby island.

I think the idea with San Juan is that the waterways there were just particularly heavy with merchant traffic. Pretty sure the shipping lanes ran across there for the return trip from the Lesser Antilles. Take a quick look at a map of prevailing winds and currents in the Atlantic Ocean and it'll make sense. European merchant vessels sailed south further out in the ocean, where the wind was more favorable. At some point they would head west into the Caribbean. They hit their destination, did their commerce, and followed one of two routes back, either skirting the coast of the Americas west then north(mostly Spanish commerce, including the famous Treasure Fleets), or north along the Lesser Antilles then west along the Greater Antilles. In either case, the ships would then sail north along the coast of North America, until they hit winds more favorable to carry them east back to Europe. To the point of your original question, a great deal of this shipping would have passed by Puerto Rico, often already laden with valuable trade goods (or profits from the sale of) packed in for the return trip to Europe or the Colonies.

The wealth of Havana (Cuba) was due to the fact that it was the seat of Spanish power in the region, being the most populous and well-defended city in the Caribbean throughout most of its history. This was the last port of call for nearly all Spanish shipping before it began the journey up the North American Coast, then back across the Atlantic for Spain. Even the treasure fleets typically put in at Havana for supplies. A huge amount of wealth flowed through this port, and the strength of the Spanish coast guard here meant that merchant shipping was about as safe here as was possible in the Caribbean.

I believe Old Providence was actually the first British outpost in the Caribbean, before any of the other colonies were established. It was indeed a center for privateering against the Spanish, and I believe Henry Morgan operated out of Old Providence, staging many legendary raids on Spanish colonies. (More info on this in Stephen Talty's book 'Empire of Blue Water', which focuses on the era just before the Golden Age, and deals specifically with Henry Morgan's life and career.)

As for your last question, I'd love an answer to that one myself. All the books I've read on the subject speak almost entirely about the Spanish and the English, with little more than footnotes on the colonies or activities of the Dutch and French. I don't know if this is a matter of Anglocentrism (being that the books I'm reading are written by British and American historians/authors, for an English audience), or simply that these two powers were the predominant actors in the region during the period.
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Carsten Jorgensen
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I seem to recall that the governor of Tortuga sponsored pirates himself. Then it makes some sence that pirates are safe from "his" naval ships if without a French bounty and French merchants are safe from "his" NPC-pirates.

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Chris
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If you like Pirate stories, I recommend the TV series Black Sails arrrh
 
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